Category Archives: Macro

Fiscal Free Lunch

[This is the first of a series of short bulletins called, ‘The Course of the Exchange’, in memory of John Castaing’s widely-read updates, posted in Jonathan’s Coffee House in Change Alley, 300 years ago]

With the latest CBO estimates for the US Federal budget for August just in, we are again in a position to take stock of the scale of the burden which the COVID-19 lockdowns and more general restrictions have imposed upon the nation’s finances. It does not make for happy reading.

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The Fall Approaches

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It’s not just the leaves that often turn when the year begins, with gathering pace, to slip towards its chilly end. Markets often do, too.

Given this backdrop, the sell-off in the Nasdaq – in the marvelled-at ‘Growth’ stocks, in the FAANGs, and in Tesla – comes at a moment which is particularly intriguing for reasons which go far beyond whatever coup SoftBank may or may not have attempted and whether those irritating Lockdown Livermores have finally gotten their comeuppance.

MMT Vessels Make The Most Noise

As a sort of Keynes-manqué, Stephanie Kelton’s moment in the limelight is being granted her for much the same reason as was that of her more illustrious predecessor: she is telling free-spending politicians what they always want to hear – viz., that their habitual incontinence is statesmanship of the highest order.
With our good professor never missing an opportunity to remind anyone and everyone that her book – a veritable almanac of economic hocus-pocus – tops the non-fiction charts (surely a gross miscategorization if ever there was), we must therefore re-emphasize our view that the REAL peril of Magic Money Tree economics – aka MMT – is what it means for the private sphere in general and the scope for genuine entrepreneurship in particular, NOT whether it causes prices to rise or not. The question is one of liberty, not inflation; real prosperity, not growth.

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Saturn Devours His Children

A recent Wall St Journal article gave vent to a scare-story full of Underconsumptionist claptrap, carried under the catchy headline: “The Coronavirus Savings Glut”. Ironically, and only a day later, the paper ran a second piece entitled “How Coronavirus Upended a Trillion-Dollar Corporate Borrowing Binge and Kicked Off a Wave of Bankruptcies

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Not your Grandfather’s Crisis

Many people are trying to draw analogies with the Great Depression, with wartime, or the 70s stagflation era but we feel most of these analogies are missing the mark. Here we explain why

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Whatever it doesn’t take

On March 15th, the Eurozone branch of the Throw-more-money-at-it lobby were making themselves heard, calling for the ECB to run the printing presses for a limited (author pulls down lower eyelid with index finger) period as a supplement to the to the €120 billion in extra security purchases already made to that point. [NB total ‘assistance’ to April 17th had reached to €275bln in RP, €148bln in securities, and €126bln in FX swaps for a total of €550bln in five short weeks].We responded:-

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Turning Japanese

A noted [monetary extremist] resident at GMU’s Mercatus Center fretted on March 20th that Japan’s efforts during 2001-06 to have the central bank finance deficits ‘didn’t work’ – i.e., they failed to ignite meaningful levels of wealth-sapping inflation. The reason? As our sage tells us, was that there was ‘no commitment… to a permanent expansion of the monetary base’ as expounded in the ratiocinations of that dark genius of modern central bank theorising, Michael Woodford. We replied:-

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What IS a ‘Market’?

In response to an FT article of January 23rd entitled, “The new kings of the bond market”, which suggested that banks had ceded their command over fixed income to exchange-traded funds and active portfolio traders, we responded with a riff on the sorry consequences of recent financial developments: a bromide which turned out to be singularly well-timed in view of the extraordinary upheavals suffered just a few, short weeks later:-

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How Essential is ‘Essential’?

In the drive to prevent (viral) death by means of mass (economic) suicide, our Overlords have begun to order the cessation of activities in all ‘non-essential’ businesses.

While one can sympathise with the sentiment, it is, sadly, yet another example of the ignorant doing harm by trying to do good, since it shows absolutely no understanding of the complexity of the modern economy or of the elevated degree of interdependency which exists within it.

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